Reworking the Workforce to Fix the Economy

TOM HUDSON: The nation`s largest bank is cutting jobs. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) will layoff 3,500 workers by the end of September. That`s just over one percent of its workforce. A spokesperson said the cuts will be spread across all business units. B of A is not the only banker scaling back. Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE: BK), Goldman Sachs and State Street (NYSE: STT) have all recently announced layoffs.

SUSIE GHARIB: So just how weak is the job market? A new report shows that unemployment rates rose in July in more than half of all states in the U.S. while the nation`s overall unemployment rate fell to 9.1 percent last month. Joblessness was up in 28 states, unchanged in 13 and down in nine. Nevada is still the hardest hit. The unemployment rate there: 12.9 percent. North Dakota has the nation`s lowest: 3.3 percent. As we continue our series “How To Fix the Economy,” tonight we focus on jobs. Darren Gersh reports on some out of the box solutions that could boost job growth.

DARREN GERSH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: If there aren`t enough new jobs to go around, how about this? Instead of laying off one worker, reduce the hours of four or five people and then use unemployment benefits to make up some of the lost pay. It`s called job sharing and economist Dean Baker says preventing a job from being lost is almost as good as creating a job.

DEAN BAKER, CO-DIR., CENTER FOR ECONOMIC & POLICY RSCH.: It doesn`t make sense to say the government is going to pay you to be completely unemployed with unemployment benefits, but it`s not going to pay you, if you are working short hours. So why not have that option available to firms, available to workers? It`s really very much a conservative idea.

GERSH: Another creative way of thinking about jobs is to focus on helping improve the skills and mobility of workers who have lost jobs in hard-hit industries like construction. Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) chief economist John Silvia says people who have lost their jobs may not have had to look for a new one for many years. Training in job search skills and some cash to relocate may be enough to launch a new career.

JOHN SILVIA, CHIEF ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO SECURITIES: I think we know that a lot of people are stuck in their house and perhaps they need help moving to a job location. In other words, there is another job out there for them. It just doesn`t happen to be in their hometown. So I would rather focus on the workers, rather than the jobs.

GERSH: Since we are having trouble creating enough jobs here at home, why not bring in some help from people who have good ideas for new businesses? Companies like Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) and Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO)! were all founded by immigrants which is why the Kaufman Foundation`s Tim Kane wants to offer start-up visas to foreign entrepreneurs.

TIM KANE, SR. FELLOW, KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION: Something that everyone in Washington agrees on is high skilled immigrants are great. And this idea of a start up visa would focus on entrepreneurs and let foreign entrepreneurs come in. If they can create three jobs here, why not?

GERSH: And while we`re at it, why not help unemployed workers here to become entrepreneurs? Seven states now allow workers to keep their unemployment benefits while they start their own businesses. Ideas like that and job sharing have been tried out in pilot programs. Now the challenge is to find good ideas and make them big ideas. Darren Gersh, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Washington.


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